Clinton's Sex Scandal

Everybill — The G.O.P.'s failed morality play

It is good Christianity, unfortunately, in the sense in which American Christians have come to (mis)understand their religion over the last few decades. The real drama here isn't about whose DNA is in the cum stains on Monica's dress; it's about how the postures and threats of Christianity got transformed into Republican political procedure, with the teachings of Jesus, especially any concept of atonement or forgiveness, carefully left out. Just as mystery cycles don't end with Adam's expulsion from Eden, morality plays don't end with the hero being cast into the pit of eternal damnation. They end with the hero redeemed, and on his way to the pearly gates, with everybody singing a hearty Laudamus. But then, Jesus wasn't much of a partisan in politics; he said, "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's" and left it at that.

The Republicans aren't about to render anything unto Clinton; they see Gingrich in his place. Consequently, that Bill let Monica blow him, and then didn't care to discuss the matter, has to be the unforgivable sin of all time. The legislative body that shied away from impeaching Richard Nixon (whose crimes against the Constitution were beyond counting), and declined to censure Reagan and Bush (whose fiddling with arms to Iran was as close to treasonable as any presidential act on record), is now rolling merrily toward the impeachable quickie between consenting adults. In terms of American politics, this demonstration of petty-mindedness is a social tragedy of the highest order. As the morality drama the Republican leadership would like it to be, it's a painful, embarrassing burlesque: the sternest, most puritanically judgmental hauteur being exercised by a gang of greedy, bigoted, self-indulgent thieves dressed up as ministering angels over a dumb schnook who has the pathetic habit of thinking with his dick. Whatever they do to him legally, in aesthetic terms the sanctimonious cartoon going on around him makes compromising, evasive, agenda-mucking, muddle-headed Slick Willie look, in contrast, more like a hero than ever. That he probably won't get a happy ending only tells you again that the jerks pursuing him don't understand the form of the drama they're spending so much of your money to create. And you thought Broadway ticket prices were high.

One of four articles in our Clinton's Sex Scandal feature.

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